Why Non-Payment App's May Take NFC Mass Market First

In order to meet rising demand and requests for opinion, guidanceand data on non-payment applications and services, we have just published our new report looking at the potential​ for NFC tags. New products from tag and inlay manufacturers, such as Avery Dennison, Identive Group and UPM Raflatac, are now enabling this market to flourish and providing greater levels of competition, which is needed to help give service providers a choice. The standardisation by the NFC Forum for Types 1-4 has also helped moved things forward although this is focused on ISO 14443 and there remains work to be done with regards to ISO 15693 tag reading.

In brief, our findings were for a quickly accelerating market, albeit from a small starting point and with a slight blunting in the short term. The vast majority of shipments will focus around smart posters, information pick-up and marketing related services. More can be found about that here in our press release.

Whilst much has been made of NFC and contactless mobile payments, it is only in the past six months that the focus has broadened to look at the wider picture. I have said before that NFC can enable and enhance services and bring applications into the physical world, making them more interactive. The thought now occurs to me that this may well be what takes NFC mass market. That is to say, it will be these open, non-secure applications which will be the fastest growing area for NFC - not payments (which continues to labour under the burden of security, standards, certification and an evolving business model consisting of partners that would prefer to compete than cooperate).

The hurdle of widespread handset availability remains to be overcome, and this will still be driven by payments. However, in terms of usage, (some) consumers may remain wary of security and may hold back from using an NFC smartphone to make a payment. By comparison, the trust barrier to tapping to access a voucher, access a local mapor download a movie trailer is much smaller, and therefore level of use and acceptance is likely to be much higher. As such, I think that it can be said that open (non-secure) applications will be the ones to take NFC mass market.